Oil pulling is a dental folk remedy whereby oil is swished around the mouth like mouthwash.
As a dentist, I’m interested in anything that benefits oral health. Beyond regular brushing, flossing, good antiseptic mouthwash, and regular dental visits – could oil pulling further benefit the teeth and gums? In this post, I’ll examine the practice and tell you what I think.
Oil pulling has historical roots in Hindu tradition. Proponents claim it can improve dental health and provide other benefits. What does the science say?
There are few scientific studies about oil pulling. However, here are some of the studies that do exist:
- Edible oils (coconut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil) have antibacterial properties.
- Essential oils (tea tree oil) appear to help reduce gingivitis and plaque formation.
I recently read a large text on dental herbology, which stated that both sesame oil and coconut oil were good for oil pulling.
According to the book, if you swish for 20 minutes, it is supposed to “pull off” bacteria and leave behind enzymes that make it difficult for bacteria to recolonize.
Remember that oil pulling is not a replacement for regular dental hygiene: brushing, flossing, mouthwash, & regular dental visits – but if you want to try it in addition to these things, you can get the ingredients online or at local natural food stores.
One practical tip: Spit the oil in the trash. You don’t want to clog your pipes up.